A Korean Aussie adoptee goes back home for the first time. Hilarity ensues?
I scored passes to the Korean Film Festival in Brisbane last week. I interviewed David from the Korean Cultural Office about the festival and Korean pop culture’s increasing popularity for 4EB.
It’s relatively new and I’d never been before. It hit Brisbane just after I found out I was going on the First Trip Home, so I went along with the intention of soaking up as much Korean-ness as I could.
The first movie on opening night was A Werewolf Boy. A love story of a girl finding a boy raised by wolves in the barn of her home, and teaching him to become human. The sleazy landlord tries to assault her but the boy TURNS INTO A WOLF to protect her. The sleazy landlord enacts his revenge, getting the government and townsfolk involved. The girl and the boy are torn apart and at this point everyone in the cinema simultaneously burst into tears. It’s quirky and cute then tears your heart in half. Damn. I liked the girl in this movie. She’s headstrong, smart and shouts at the sleazy guy AND a policeman. Her werewolf boy is adorable too. Kick ass.
I took my adoptive Mum to see Approved for Adoption. A gorgeous animated film directed by a Belgian Korean adoptee about his childhood, interspersed with his trip to Korea as a 40 year old. Funny, cute stories of adolescence but with sombre reflections on identity, loneliness and dreams of unknown parents. Another movie that made me laugh, shortly followed by a gut punch to my feelings until salty liquid exploded out of my eyeballs. Funnily enough though, it wasn’t actually as sad as I thought it would be – which I guess is an apt description of my experiences as an adoptee. There are some sad parts, but it’s not all bad.
“Did you like the movie?” asked a Korean Film Fest staff member.
“SHE’S MY DAUGHTERRRR,” sobbed Mum.
“Bloody hell, I’m a sook.”
The third movie was the 9 Muses of the Star Empire, a documentary on a K pop group. I thought it’d be about the glamorous life of a K-pop star, but it looked like hell. 9 beautiful (and worryingly thin) women cracking under the pressure of being constantly humiliated by jerk managers. Imagine some gross old man snapping at you that you’re not sexy enough. I’d probably tell him to shove it. Great songs though.
The Thieves was the last one I saw. It’s like Oceans 11, but there were heaps of characters so it was more like Oceans 30. But in Asia. With chicks. A crazy, action-packed film about Korean and Chinese thieves all scheming against each other to steal a diamond. It’s clever, silly, thrilling and fun.
Things I learned from Korean movies:
Thanks to 4EB and the Korean Cultural Office for inviting me to the film festival. It’s currently travelling through Sydney and Melbourne, so make sure to check it out!